Editor's note: Jerry Newberry, communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and host of The National Defense radio show, journeyed to Iraq for the first time this past March. An Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Newberry is going to battle once again and expanding his reporting duties in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Newberry will be donning his battle fatigues for five weeks, beginning this week. His first report is below.
September 18, 2006
Getting ready for the second time around isn't proving to be any easier than the first trip. Seems as if the experience gained from the first journey has grown the "to do" list by a mile, especially since this trip entails being embedded in two separate theatres with different geographic and weather environments. My mantra for packing has always been less is best, but these dual environments mandate I pack enough appropriate clothing and gear to cover both situations.
Have I mentioned that there won't be any bellhops waiting for tips where I'm going!! There is no such thing as a bellhop in the battlefield. You lug what you bring!
And of course there are other details that need tending to: Paying bills (some in advance), making arrangements for the cat, stopping mail delivery, cleaning the house. Checking and double-checking the equipment: recorder, camera, batteries. Packing the rucksack: passport, long-sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, socks, skivvies, toothbrush, wet weather gear, sleeping bag, pants...
Waiting for the departure day has been the worst part. Not much different than the pre-deployment days of Vietnam. At least this time I know the unit and the mission.
Anticipation, questions, curiosity... anxiety level starting to climb... not out of fear, more from thinking about the travel: KC/Chicago/London/Delhi/Kabul then back via Delhi/Doha/Kuwait/Baghdad... waaah!
And what the hell am I whining about? Think about what deployment means to thousands of the "Joes" and the "Janes" who are deployed for months on end? Think about all of the particulars they have to take care of and the dangers they face...